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Table 3 Major behavior change techniques, related theoretical constructs and game mechanics, and their implementation in the narrative game intervention

From: Testing the effects of narrative and play on physical activity among breast cancer survivors using mobile apps: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Technique Related constructs Related game mechanics Strategies
Goal-setting (behavior) Competence Player-defined goals Set long-term, short-term, and weekly goals
Feedback on behavior Competence Feedback Run logs, game statistics, virtual supplies received
Self-monitoring of behavior Competence Points App monitors intensity, duration, and frequency of activity
Social support (emotional) Relatedness Verbal intangible rewards Game characters provide encouragement
Information about health consequences Autonomy N/A Counselors detail a solid rationale for behavior change
Information about others’ approval Competence, Relatedness Verbal intangible rewards Game characters encourage and congratulate the player character
Behavioral practice/rehearsal Playful experience Role play Game-based activity is by definition practice
Non-specific reward Playful experience, autonomy Pick-ups, task non-contingent rewards “Memorials” and other special virtual items; random gifts from characters
Identification of the self as a role model Identification, exercise identity, integrated regulation Representational agency, role play Participant role-plays as a strong and important person
Framing-reframing Identification, playful experience, competence Role play Walking is framed as play and performance
Identity associated with changed behavior Exercise identity, integrated regulation Character identification, role play Participant identifies with fit character who uses activity to succeed
Verbal persuasion about capability Competence, relatedness Verbal intangible rewards Characters encourage and congratulate player
Mental rehearsal of successful performance Playful experience, exercise imagery Role play Participant imagines saving kittens, children, etc. via physical prowess
Focus on past success Competence Rewards of glory Run logs, special buildings in base, characters mention past exploits
Vicarious consequences Playful experience, autonomy, competence Role play Observe consequences of player and other characters’ activities